EGM 2018: The Choice: Bolton Or NEC?
The day is fast approaching when Ukip members will be asked to vote to either uphold the Vote of No Confidence in Henry Bolton put forward by the NEC a few weeks ago, or to reject it and allow him to stay in office and attempt to bring some stability and vision back to the party.
We all know, or should do by now what has been going on within the party since Christmas – social media and the press have both been busy in that respect! There are obviously arguments on both sides and I shall endeavour to keep to facts as much as possible during the following debate. The first thing to point out, however, is the fact that the existing NEC were elected by the members to represent the members at the ‘top table’. Whether they have done this effectively is perhaps open to debate for some, but they are elected.
Henry was one of the original eleven (subsequently seven) candidates to stand for the leadership election back in August last year. He stood on a platform of a ‘strong and stable’ family man with a suitably impressive CV involving a background of army and police rankings and several academic qualifications, not to mention that Nigel Farage himself had acted as a referee. He was, and still is in many ways, the ‘new kid on the block’ whom few, if any, had heard of previously, but seemingly his CV and reference more than made up for that.
We now know that his previous political experience came from his standing with the Liberal Democrats of all parties! We have also recently discovered several inconsistencies regarding his CV and his personal affairs, both of which came to light as a result of the latest shenanigans with Jo Marney. It’s of no use to drag up all the texts and messages that have swung back and forth, admittedly on both sides of the argument. Suffice to say that had the relationship with Jo not been plastered all over social media in the way it was and at the time it was, these other issues may never have come to light!
However, one has to ask the question as to what kind of family man leaves his wife and young family (one still being breastfed), at Christmas of all times? Surely that is the most poignant time of all when Christmas is a special time for families? Yes, breakdowns happen – of course, they do, but why at Christmas? Why, if the marriage was over in the summer, wait until Christmas before leaving her? Then we find out that there have been other affairs within other marriages. Surely we can be forgiven for thinking ill of him! What’s more, he knowingly broke party rules by behaving as he did: (see W3 and J3:13 of rulebook), despite being advised by a trusted colleague.
Even before this fiasco, Henry was not proving popular amongst activists, mainly due to lack of communication, vision and policy, but also because he insisted on remaining silent on the issue of Chair, despite knowing that people were concerned and wanted to know what was happening. He could’ve addressed this with a simple statement but chose not to. More recently, he has grossly upset the Young Independents both with his attitude and inability to engage with them over pertinent issues.
All of the above, and probably more besides have contributed to both the mass of resignations we have witnessed over the last few weeks as well as the recent decision of the NEC to propose unanimously (bar Henry himself of course) for a Vote of No Confidence in his leadership.
Whatever you may think of the NEC, I cannot see that on this occasion at least, how they could have done anything different given the circumstances. The rules state that the ultimate decision is down to the members and so that is what they have allowed to be done.
Many argue the case for NEC reform, and I understand that they themselves largely agree, but is Henry Bolton the man to do it? I would suggest that anyone wanting to bring about reform needs to do so as a team. Many of the top team have now resigned, and it’s possible that more will follow if he stays in office.
If he stays, the existing NEC will need to step down and be replaced, but by whom? Even if he gets his own team to work with, the labourers are the grassroots without whom there is no party. Even if the grassroots ‘knuckle under’ so to speak, for the sake of the local elections, will Henry get any respect?
We need to think of not just the elections, as important as they are, but further ahead. Henry, or any leader, can only get things done with sufficient team co-operation at all levels. I am asking whether that is a realistic expectation when so many have lost their confidence and respect for him. He is largely a capable man, although he lacks political nous, his character leaves a lot to be desired, both professionally and personally. His obvious arrogance in refuting any blame himself and his apparent insistence to soldier on regardless of anything or anyone is not consistent with a being a team-player or a leader. We need a leader who can communicate effectively, one we can trust and who has sufficient political experience. We need to consider too that if he stays, he’s there for four years! We cannot be having another leadership election in six months if it doesn’t work out. We must get it right now as there is just too much at stake!